JUST WHAT IS A PARABLE ANYWAY?
A parable is a story meant to convey a moral or spiritual lesson. The Greek and Roman myths we read about in grade school are parables. Most of Shakespeare’s plays can be considered parables. The fable of the Emperor’s new clothes is a parable as is the story of the boy who cried wolf.The tortoise and the hare is a parable. Most Dr. Seuss stories are parables as are most Disney movies. You get the idea. Parables abound in all cultures. Some are snippets and some are epic.
The Bible says Jesus taught only in parables1. If that’s true, we can’t really take anything Jesus taught literally. Let’s remember, nobody had a tape recorder around when Jesus was telling these stories. These, like all the stories in the Bible, were conveyed word of mouth for decades, even centuries, before they were finally written down. Written down by someone who’d never met Jesus or knew anyone who had.2
That being said, in this section I’m going to go over Jesus’ parables and give my take on them. Sometimes I’ll take some liberties with the story to modernize it a bit and sometimes I’ll quote directly, but I’ll never change what’s actually happening in the story. Feel free to compare to the original if you’d like.
Let’s get started.
THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER Matthew 13:3-9
“A farmer went out to sow his seeds. As he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground and immediately sprang up but since the soil was so thin, they were scorched by the sun and withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears let him hear.
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Have you ever had a great idea, or heard something you thought was the greatest thing ever but you never acted on it? You got busy with other things and it just slipped your mind? Well, that’s like the seeds that fell on the path and were eaten by the birds. Lots of potential but nothing happened. It’s common and happens every day.
Or have you ever had that great idea but once you started working on it, it was more than you bargained for? You thought, “This is way too much work. Nothing’s ever gonna come from this anyway. What’s the point?” That’s like the seeds that fell on the rocky ground. You actually got going on it (they sprouted) but you just didn’t have the inspiration or motivation to follow through so you just gave up (they withered away). Again, it happens every day.
Have you ever gotten on a roll with something and it seemed like it might actually happen only to have some nay-sayers convince you it was impossible. Or maybe, once you actually had to commit your time and energy, you found out you’d rather watch TV or surf the internet or party with your friends instead. Eventually your great idea just piddled out and, alas, nothing ever came of it because too many other things got in the way. Your seeds got choked out by the thorns.
But maybe, just maybe, you’ve gotten an incredible inspiration and you actually followed through on it. You were inspired enough that nothing could distract you. Once you got working on it you couldn’t think of anything else. Instead of work it felt like inspired action and your enthusiasm burned until it actually came to be. Your idea landed on fertile soil and had grown beyond anything you could have imagined.
Every seed has the same potential but only you can provide the fertile soil they need to thrive.
In a spiritual sense this parable demonstrates the differing levels of awakening and commitment of those on the so-called ‘spiritual path’. It shows how some people cannot even understand what awakening is; some awaken only to fall away when the going gets tough; some awaken but the pull of the material world drags them back to ‘reality’; and some truly awaken and are forever changed.
I would imagine most people reading this book have been in any or all of these predicaments. It’s no big deal and is really quite normal. Wherever you are on your path is just fine. Take a minute and be honest with yourself. Where are your seeds right now?
PARABLE OF THE MUSTARD SEED Matthew 13:31-33; Mark 4:30-32; Luke 13:18-21
“The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches. He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”
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This parable, the only one to make it into three of the four Gospels, says it only takes a small amount of faith to change your world. This is true faith I’m talking about, not being hopeful or kind of believing in something. This is the kind of faith that is unshakable and leaves no room for doubt. This could be your faith in God, your faith in yourself, your faith in the goodness of the world or, on the flip side, your faith in the wickedness of humanity. It works either way.
The reference to leaven is just another way of saying the same thing. It only takes a tiny bit of leaven (yeast) to get your bread to rise. And under the right conditions the leaven will multiply all on its own. Just like faith.
Where does your faith lie? Do you believe things are always working out for you or are you just waiting for the other shoe to drop? If you are like most people you are somewhere in between. Faith is not static; at different times we can be anywhere on the scale. But we can take control of our thoughts if we so choose and that will determine our faith..It’s up to each one of us to determine where our faith truly lies.
PARABLE OF THE TREASURE Matthew 13-44-46
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”
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I live in Southern California where real estate prices are off the chart, especially near the beach where I am. People routinely buy a small, dumpy house for half a million bucks, scrape it and build a really nice one and sell it for $17,000,000. That’s a tidy profit. I know real estate people who, if they could get their hands on a prime piece of property for under a million dollars, they’d sell their first born child to get it.
So what does this have to do with God?
In this parable Jesus is talking about people who finally awaken to their own divine, spiritual magnificence. Once awakened, they can never turn back and will do anything to chase that dragon. It’s the level of ‘woke-ness’ we would all do well to strive for.
There is nothing more valuable than the love, peace and joy that is the Kingdom of heaven.
PARABLE OF THE SHEEP Matthew 18:12-14
“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.”
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I’m sure we’ve all lost something that was either really valuable or had a lot of sentimental value. When you found it, wasn’t that feeling way more powerful than what you were feeling about it before you lost it? Of course it was. This is how God feels about you. Yes, you!
Jesus is telling us we are not just grains of sand on the beach or dust in the wind; we are each one unique, cherished and the most important thing in the world! God3 would never allow any of his creation to be ‘lost’ or perish in any way.
THE PARABLE OF THE UNFORGIVING SERVANT Matthew 18:23-35
“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like an important businessman who wanted to settle accounts with some contractors who owed him money. First on the agenda was a contractor who owed him ten thousand dollars. But this contractor didn’t have the money so the businessman sued him for everything he owned .
“The contractor knew he didn’t have a case. He’d be penniless, out on the street, his wife would leave him and he’d never see his children again. Devastated, he fell to his knees. ‘Please, be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The businessman took pity on him, canceled the debt and sent him on his way.
“No sooner had the contractor left the courtroom than he tracked down one of his fellow sub-contractors who owed him a thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the neck and screamed, ‘Pay me what you owe me!’
“The sub-contractor fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I swear I will pay it back.’
“But the contractor refused. Instead, he took the sub-contractor to court and demanded everything he had be sold until the debt was paid in full.
“When the other sub-contractors saw what had happened, they were outraged and told the businessman everything that had happened.
“Then the businessman called the contractor in. ‘You good for nothing piece of sh_t! I canceled all your debt because you begged and begged and begged me to. And now you tell me you couldn’t cut your own subcontractor the same slack?’
“In anger his businessman sued the contractor into oblivion.”
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I’ll admit, I’ve taken some liberties with modernizing the narrative but I’ve kept the actual story right on point.
Jesus is making two distinct points here and illustrating the fundamental dynamics of the universe; Love and Law.
First he’s showing us the mercy and generosity of the businessman. Of course this refers to God and his eternal givingness. Jesus states over and over that God wants nothing more than that we have all the fruits of the kingdom and we have them in abundance. The businessman’s first dealing with the contractor illustrates this vividly. This is where Love sets the foundation.
But the contractor is one wicked dude and takes it out on the poor subcontractor. When the businessman finds out he takes the contractor to court and ruins him.
Many people will use this as proof that God will punish you if you mess up. But that’s not the case at all. What Jesus is really showing is the Law part of Love and Law; in this case the Law of Attraction.
It’s not that God punished the wicked contractor, it’s that the contractor’s own actions actually drew to himself the very thing he’d been perpetrating. We are not punished for our mistakes, we suffer the consequences of them. The Law of Attraction is an equal opportunity law; do good, you draw good; do evil, you draw evil. It’s as simple as that. Some people call this Karma. Jesus knew our lives are determined by the vibration of our thoughts and he did his best to tell a story in a way his followers could understand.
THE PARABLE OF THE WORKERS IN THE VINEYARD Matthew 20:1-16
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers to work in his vineyard. He agreed to pay them each $100.00 for the day and sent them out to his fields.
“About nine in the morning he went out and saw others hanging out in the parking lot with nothing to do. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and when the day is over I’ll pay you whatever is right.’ They took the farmer at his word and went off to work the vineyard with the others.
“The landowner went out again at noon and then again at three in the afternoon and did the same thing. About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing? “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.“He said to them, ‘Go talk to my foreman and he’ll put you to work.’
“When evening came, the landowner said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’
“The workers who were hired at five in the afternoon came and each received $100.00. Those who were hired early in the morning thought they’d get more, since they’d worked all day. But when the time came they too received $100.00. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.
“His answer to them was, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for $100.00? Take your pay and go. What’s it to you if I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous? So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
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Jesus is making it pretty plain that it doesn’t matter how much time you’ve put in on your particular spiritual path, how much you’ve worked or sacrificed, or how awakened you might think you are. None of that matters to God. We are all equally worthy of the gifts of the kingdom and it is God’s delight to bestow them all upon us.
THE PARABLE OF THE TWO SONS Mathew 21:28-32
“There was a man who had two sons. He went to his younger son and said, ‘Son, I need you to go in to work today.’
“‘Oh, come on Dad, it’s Saturday, I really can’t do it,’ he answered. But later on he changed his mind and went to work anyway.
“Then the father went to his older son and said the same thing. The older son answered, ‘Sure, I’ll do it,” but he blew it off and never went.
Jesus asked those around him, “Which of the two sons did what his father wanted?”
“The first,” they answered.
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John4 came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not recognize your mistake and believe him.”
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Simply put, Jesus is saying talk is cheap. It’s action that counts. It doesn’t matter if you’re a whore, a thief, a drug addict or a Rhodes Scholar, it only matters if you have love in your heart, joy in your song and compassion in your dealings.
THE PARABLE OF THE TENANTS Matthew 21:33-41
“There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a wine press in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to a different country. When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.
“The tenants seized his servants ; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. Then the landowner sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. Last of all, the landowner sent his son. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said.
“But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.
“Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”
“He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.”
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In essence this is the same as the parable of the unforgiving servant (subcontractor). Jesus shows once again how God wants nothing more than that we should prosper and thrive but, in the end, we will always reap the consequences of our thoughts and actions.
THE PARABLE OF THE WEDDING BANQUET Matthew 22:1-14
Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a rich man who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they all begged off and wouldn’t come.
“Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: The table is full and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’
“But they paid no attention and went their own way. Some went shopping, others went to work. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his personal army and destroyed those murderers and burned their homes.
“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite anyone you find to my banquet.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.
“But when the rich man came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. He asked, ‘My friend, how did you get in here without wearing some decent clothes?’ The man was speechless.
“Then the rich man told the attendants, ‘Get this loser out of here, throw him out into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
“For many are invited, but few are chosen.”
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On the surface this parable seems pretty harsh. I’m not sure if Jesus is just having a bad day or he’s using typical Aramaic exaggeration, but again, Jesus is showing us how the Kingdom of Heaven is open to everyone but, if we are to enjoy it, we must allow the good to flow through us .
PARABLE OF THE 10 VIRGINS Matthew 25:1-13
“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their flashlights out into the night to wait for the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their flashlights but did not take any extra batteries. But the wise ones knew it would be a long night so they took just enough extra batteries to last through the night. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep..
“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
“Then all the virgins woke up and checked their flashlights. The foolish ones found their batteries dead and said to the wise ones, ‘Give us some of your batteries; our flashlights are going out.’
“‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both of us. Instead, you go to the store and buy your own batteries.’
“But while the foolish virgins went looking for batteries, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
“Much later the other virgins showed up. ‘Come on, man,’ they said, ‘open the door and let us in!’
“But the bridegroom replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”
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All Jesus is saying here is that when it comes to accomplishing anything you need to remain diligent, be persistent and stay focused. The bridegroom in this story is the prize but he symbolizes any desire you might have, whether it’s about health, finances, relationships or creative endeavors, it doesn’t matter.
The wise virgins didn’t necessarily work any harder than the foolish virgins. They weren’t more deserving and they certainly weren’t more ‘spiritual’. They simply were more mindful. They were patient, prepared and they persevered.
If we expect to reap the gifts of the kingdom we need to be like the wise virgins.5
PARABLE OF THE TALENTS Matthew 25:14-29
“The kingdom of heaven will be like a businessman going on a journey who called his accountants and entrusted them each with a sum he thought they could handle. To one he gave $1,000,000, to a second he gave $500,000, and to a third he gave $200,000. He figured they would invest wisely according to their own particular strategies. Then he went on his journey.
“The accountant who had received $1,000,000 went at once and bought some property, developed it and quickly doubled his money.
“Likewise, the accountant with $500,000 really knew how to play the stock market and before long had doubled his money also.
“But the accountant who had received $200,000 immediately went home and stashed his bosses’ money in his safe..
“After two years the businessman returned and settled with his accountants.
“The first accountant took his boss to see the real estate he’d developed. “As you know, I’ve been in real estate for a long time. I snagged this prime piece of property and after building a couple of houses on it I doubled your money.’
“‘Way to go, man! Great job! You did so well I’m going to put you in charge of my entire real estate operation. Next week we’ll take my private jet to London and I’ll show you the ropes!’
“When it was his turn, the accountant with the $500,000 showed his boss what he’d done. ‘As you know, I’ve been working the market for a long time. I think you’ll be pleased with what I’ve done.’
“When the businessman saw how he’d turned $500,000 into a million he was overjoyed. ‘Well done! You’ve really outdone yourself. I think I’d like to make you CFO of my financial division.’
“Then the accountant who had received $200,000 came. ‘Sir,’ he said, ‘I know that you are a hard man. You say a word and your investments skyrocket. Wherever you put your attention seems to be touched by gold. I was afraid I could never live up to these expectations so I took your money and put it in my safe.’ He handed his boss the money. ‘Here it is sir, every penny.’
“His boss replied, ‘You worthless, no good, sorry excuse of an accountant! You know I’m a successful man and I expect those around me to excel as well. You didn’t even think to put it in the bank or a mutual fund and at least let me get a little interest off it?’
“Then the businessman fired the worthless accountant and took his $200,000 and gave it to the first accountant who had succeeded in real estate. He knew he’d invest it wisely.
“And then he said for all to hear, ‘For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even that which they have will be taken from them.’
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Again, Jesus is showing us how we are all endowed with certain gifts and if we use them wisely they will grow more and more and we will reap huge rewards. But if we squander our gifts they will eventually stagnate and even the gifts we once had will be gone.
Jesus continually makes this point of “…he who has, will more be given but to he who has not, even that which he has will be taken away.” 6 This has nothing to do with punishment or even right or wrong. The, “he who has…” part can be taken as “…he who has love,” “…he who has faith,” “:..he who has confidence,” or even “…he who has optimism” will attract even more. It’s the natural outcome of the Law of Attraction. What you focus on draws more of the same to itself. If you are confident, you do well and your confidence grows
On the flip side he who has not love, even the love that he has will slip away. A man who cannot love will not even be able to accept it. Soon he will be loveless and no one will love him. He who has no confidence will fail and his lack of confidence will continually manifest in his life. Eventually he will be totally devoid of any shred of what confidence he may have once had. It’s not hard to see what Jesus was talking about.
On a purely practical level, this doesn’t only apply to so-called spiritual qualities. If you’re a musician and you don’t play for a long time your abilities shrink exponentially. If you were an athlete and now you’re a couch potato there’s no way you can do what you used to. Once those abilities are gone it’s nearly impossible to get them back. That which you once had will be taken away.7 But if you continue to train and practice diligently, your skills will continue to improve and you will be better than ever.
Wherever you put your attention, your focus and your enthusiasm, that is where you will gain “even more.”
PARABLE OF THE SEED Mark 4:26-29
And Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; and day by day he checks on it. First the seed sprouts and then the plant grows and grows. How it grows he does not know. The soil produces crops by itself; first the stalk, then the head, then the mature grain. Now when the crop permits, he puts in the sickle because the harvest has come.”
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Jesus is showing us a power beyond our comprehension that can somehow give life to a plant through some magical act of the soil. Even today we don’t know how that works. We don’t know how two cells divide until they become a human being. We will never understand the ‘how’ of even the simplest blessings of this life. We don’t need to. We need only enjoy them.
It behooves us to remember no seed sprouts immediately. You can’t eat an ear of corn for dinner tonight from a seed you planted this morning. Everything in life works like this. You must put in the time, have patience and continually tend to your thoughts, your desires, your inventions and passions. If you do, your reward is assured and your harvest bountiful.
PARABLE OF THE GOOD SAMARITAN Luke 10:30-37
“A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, took all his money, beat him severely and left him half dead.
“Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw the injured man, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, looked, and passed by on the other side.
“But a certain Samaritan, as he traveled down the road, came upon the wounded man. When he saw him, he had compassion. So he gave him some wine to ease his pain and bandaged his wounds. He then put him in his car and took him to the nearest hotel and took care of him.
“On the next day, when he departed, the Samaritan took out five hundred dollars, gave it to the hotel manager, and said, ‘Take care of him; and if you spend any more than this I’ll pay you when I get back.’
“So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”
“They said, ‘The man who showed him mercy.’
“Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
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This one is pretty straight forward; Jesus is telling us to always be kind and helpful to whomever, whenever we can. The fact that he says a Priest and a Levite8 ignored the injured man while a Samaritan was the only one to do the right thing is significant. Priests and Levites were supposed to be on the upper level of holiness while the Samaritans were hated and considered vile. Jesus is making a pointed and controversial statement that if you want to do the ‘will of God’ you need to treat everyone with honor and dignity, no matter who they are or what their status may be. No one is more worthy than anyone else and no one is unworthy in the eyes of God.
THE PARABLE OF THE RICH MAN Luke 12:15-21
And Jesus said, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.
“And he told them a parable, saying, ‘There was a rich man who had many profitable businesses. One day while he was counting his money he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, I have so much money, what will I do with it all?’
“And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my warehouses and build bigger ones. I will invest in real estate and the stock market and buy a warehouse and fill it with gold. Then I’ll be set for life and spend the rest of my life relaxing, eating, drinking, and partying.”’
“But God said to him, ‘Fool! Tonight your soul is required of you. You will die and who will have all these things you have prepared?’
“So is the one who lays up treasure for himself but does not take care of his soul.”
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People often used this parable to demean rich people or the pursuit of worldly goods. They are certain that frugality, austerity and being poor is somehow virtuous. But that’s not what Jesus is saying at all. He’s merely telling us to keep your thoughts and pursuits in the proper order. Know your priorities. Material goods are all fine and good but they’re not going to do you any good if you die on the way home from work today. What matters in life transcends the mere accumulation of physical ‘goodies’. So called ‘spiritual’ qualities such as love, kindness, relationships and service will ultimately outlast anything material. So seek them first.
THE PARABLE OF THE WEDDING FEAST Luke 14:7-11
“Jesus and many others were invited to a wedding feast and, when he noticed how some jockeyed for the best seats and best tables, he told this parable.
“Jesus said to them, ‘When you are invited to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person.’ You will be embarrassed in front of everyone there and in your shame you will end up in the place where no one else wanted to sit.
“But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, come, sit with me at my table.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests.
“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
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This one’s pretty straight forward. It’s always better to have someone else sing your praises rather than to toot your own horn. It’s better to be invited to a place of honor rather than be asked to leave and be embarrassed in front of everyone. Be humble and others will know your worth.
THE PARABLE OF THE PRODIGAL SON Luke 15:11-32
“And Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. The younger son said to his father, ‘Father, give me my inheritance now.’
“The father agreed and divided his property between his two sons.
“A few days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country where he squandered his money on reckless living. It wasn’t long before he’d spent everything and was in dire need.
“In desperation he took a job with a farmer who gave him a job feeding his pigs. The younger son was barely getting by and every once in a while he’d actually eat what he was feeding the pigs. No one gave him anything. Nobody cared.
“But finally he came to himself and thought, ‘How many of my father’s employees have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will go to my father and say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. I will do whatever you want. You should just treat me as one of your employees.’
“So the younger son rose early in the morning and went to his father’s house. While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and ran and embraced his son, smothering him with hugs and kisses.
“And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
“But the father said to his staff, ‘Quick, bring a new suit, and put it on him, and put a ring on his finger, and get him some new shoes. Then go get whatever you need for the biggest party we’ve ever had around here. It’s time to celebrate! For this my son was dead, but he is alive again; he was lost and now he is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
“Now when his older son came home from work, he heard music and dancing. He called over one of the catering staff and asked what was going on. He told him, ‘Your brother has come home, and your father is throwing a big party because he has returned home safe and sound.’
“But the older son was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and begged him to come in but the older son answered him, ‘Look, I’ve worked for you all these years and I’ve always done whatever you wanted, yet you never threw me a party like this. But this derelict son of yours squanders his entire inheritance on whores and wild living then finally drags himself home and you pull out all the stops and throw a party like we’ve never had before!’
“Then the father said to his elder son, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It is fitting to celebrate and be glad, for your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”
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Jesus is making a bold statement here. He’s saying there’s nothing we could be, do or say that would take “our Father’s” love from us. We don’t have to pay any price, we don’t need to make any amends, we don’t need to atone for anything. All we need to do is come home to who we truly are. Like the father, at our core we are loving, compassionate, kind and forgiving beings. It’s just that sometimes we lose sight of that and go a different way.
Like the son, we can sometimes be overly materialistic, hedonistic, narcissistic, even angry human beings. When we fall into this pattern things eventually always go bad. We end up like the son, metaphorically feeding pigs all day long. It’s interesting that Jesus brings in the pigs9 to show how the son had sunk as far as he could possibly go.
But finally the son “comes to himself” and realizes how foolish he’s been. He humbles himself and goes home and finds something completely unexpected – unconditional love. His father doesn’t come down on him, doesn’t want to know where he’s been or what he’s been up to. He doesn’t demand his money back. No. The father welcomes his son home with love, open arms, weeping and joy. You’d think he was celebrating the birth of a brand new baby. To him, that’s essentially what it was, that’s how happy he was, for his son was dead but now is alive.
I won’t even ask if you could do anything like that. I’m not sure I could. But that’s how God feels about you, about me, about all of us.10 It’s not something we have to earn, it just “is”. We are born worthy and can never do anything that would make us otherwise.This is a pretty heady concept and can get stuck in the craw of those who hold to the Old Testament, blood-letting sacrifice thing. But when you pay attention to what Jesus was really talking about, this is the message he’s spreading. This is the Good News that changed everything.
Here are my main takeaways from these parables.
– Seek first your connection to that inner being which is God. Listen to your heart & always follow your inner guidance.
– For every cause there is an effect. Be aware of what causes you put in motion. Be patient, forgiving and merciful and, in like kind, it will be drawn to you
– Be mindful, be humble, have integrity, and always do what is good
– God loves and accepts you no matter what.
– God loves all of us the same and all of us beyond measure.
– We are all God’s children and receive his blessings the same.
– The gifts are always there but we must accept and use them.
– Have faith that everything is always working out for you.
– A small amount of true faith will grow exponentially and draw to you evidence to support your belief.
2Taken metaphorically, all of the stories in the Gospels can be taken as parables but since they are not presented as such I’m going to just stick to the ones Jesus specifically told his followers
3If you don’t know already, go to the Forward to see what I really mean when I say “God”.
4John the Baptist.
5The actual virgin part is optional.
6Mark 4:25; Luke 8:18; John 15:2
7Not literally taken away. Nobody’s taking anything, you’re just losing it
8Remember the Levites?
9Jews hate pigs
10Or said another way; How universal Spirit knows only unconditional love and desires nothing more and provides every opportunity for its creation to enjoy all the fruits this life has to offer.